Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural, and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Harlem was annexed to New York City in 1873.
Harlem has been defined by a series of boom-and-bust cycles, with significant ethnic shifts accompanying each cycle. Black residents began to arrive en masse in 1904, with numbers fed by the Great Migration. In the 1920s and 1930s, the neighborhood was the focus of the "Harlem Renaissance", an outpouring of artistic and professional works without precedent in the American black community. However with job losses in the time of the Great Depression and the deindustrialization of New York City after World War II, rates of crime and poverty increased significantly.
New York's revival in the late 20th century has led to renewal in Harlem as well. By 1995, Harlem was experiencing social and economic gentrification. Though the percentage of residents who are black peaked in 1950, the area remains predominantly black.
Location and boundariesEdit
Harlem stretches from the East River west to the Hudson River between 155th Street; where it meets Washington Heights—to a ragged border along the south. Central Harlem begins at 110th Street, at the northern boundary of Central Park; Spanish Harlem is in Eastern Harlem and extends south to 96th Street, while in the west the neighborhood begins north of Upper West Side, which gives an irregular border west of Morningside Avenue. Harlem's boundaries have changed over the years; as Ralph Ellison said, "Wherever Negroes live uptown is considered Harlem."
The neighborhood contains a number of smaller, cohesive districts. The following are some examples:
- West Harlem (west of St. Nicholas Avenue and north of 123rd Street)
- Central Harlem (east of St. Nicholas Avenue, north of 110th Street, south of 155th Street, west of 5th Avenue.)
- East or Spanish Harlem, also known as El Barrio formerly Italian Harlem (east of Fifth Avenue, above East 96th Street)
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